For those of you who think Valentine’s Day is overrated and nothing more than an excuse for Hallmark and flower shops to make a quick buck (or two billion of them), you are probably right. But the good thing about Valentine’s Day is that it is also an excuse to consume copious amounts of chocolate, sweets and Champagne. It is ok to pretend you are buying that box of chocolates from the drugstore for someone, only to go home to devour it in its entirety while re-binge-watching Master of None. It is totally fine to stare longingly at cupcakes from your baker before purchasing half a dozen and ensuring they put a bow around the box…it’s like a surprise for later.
But really, if you are going to go all out this Valentine’s Day, you may as well go extreme and bite into the Piecupen: Pie + Cupcake + Chocolate Truffle. A mini cream pie is baked inside a red velvet cupcake, then topped with cinnamon frosting and a Champagne-filled truffle. This extreme mash-up is brought to you by the fantastically sugared-up genius Zac Young, Executive Pastry Chef of David Burke Group and sold exclusively at The Piecaken Shop.
If you can’t make it into the shop, you can attempt the heroic feat of baking them yourself. We guarantee you will need a nap and a sugar detox after this.
Red Hot Red Velvet PieCupen
Mini Chocolate Cream Pies
- 24 2-inch chocolate tart shells (store bought or homemade)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 15 ounces best quality dark chocolate, such as Valrhona 61%, roughly chopped
In a medium pot, bring cream, corn syrup and salt to a simmer. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, gently melt the chocolate in 30-second intervals, until the majority has melted. Add the hot cream to the chocolate in two additions, furiously stirring with a heat-proof rubber spatula. If the mixture looks broken or grainy, it is ok. It will come together. Once all the cream is added, buzz the mixture with a hand blender or in a food processor until it is elastic and shiny. Refrigerate 2 hours until firm.
Using an ice cream scoop, spoon or piping bag, fill the tartlet shells with the chilled ganache. Make sure to “mound” the filling on top of the shell as it will settle as it bakes. It does not have to look pretty; it is going in the middle of the PieCupen. Place the filled tartlets in the freezer while you make the cake batter.
Red Velvet Cake Batter
- 3 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 cup best quality cocoa powder, such as Valrhona
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 whole eggs
- 3 ounces red food coloring
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and oil on medium speed until combined. Add the eggs, food coloring and vanilla all at once and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and add half of the dry mixture. Stir until almost combined. Add half of the buttermilk and stir until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat with the remaining half of dry mix and buttermilk. Add the vinegar and stir until incorporated.
To bake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cavity muffin pans with cupcake liners. If you are using the taller liner, you will probably only get 18 portions. Add two tablespoons of batter to the bottom of each liner. Press one frozen or chilled chocolate tart into the batter, then fill the liner almost to the top with more batter. A cookie scoop or piping bag come in very handy for this part. Bake for 20 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the top cake part comes out clean. Make sure you are testing only the cake and not the chocolate filling, as the filling will always be liquid. Depending on your oven, it will take longer to bake than a standard cupcake, especially if using the taller liners.
Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the frosting
Red Hot Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
- 1 cup Red Hot Cinnamon Candies
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon extract or oil
- Red or pink food color (optional)
In a food processor or blender, pulverize the candies until they are a fine powder. You might want ear plugs for this because it will be loud. In the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the candy powder and butter on medium speed until the butter is smooth and softened; about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until incorporated. Add the powdered sugar and cinnamon extract, and beat until smooth and spreadable.
To finish: Spread about 3 tablespoons of frosting on the cooled cupcakes and decorate in festive Valentine’s Day fashion: chocolate truffles, cherry cordials, candy hearts and lingerie are all good options. PieCupens can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.